BALTIMORE (WJZ) — A resource that so many people take for granted, a bank, opened in Baltimore’s Cherry Hill community Wednesday.
The new bank on Cherry Hill Road is a cause for celebration.
“This is a momentous occasion for the Cherry Hill Community,” Michael Middleton, of the Cherry Hill Development Corporation and SB7 Coalition, said. “In our 75 years in existence as a community, we’ve never had a financial institution.”
The Chase Bank opened at 626 Cherry Hill Road. The goal is to inject financial literacy, like opening a checking account, building credit and even buying a home.
These are resources that have long been denied to members of the community.
“It’s like a bank desert, it was a bank dessert,” Christopher Forgenie, Branch Manager of Chase Bank, said. “So many think because the financial strength in Cherry Hill was never there, there was no need to cultivate. But that’s why we are here today, we want to challenge that.”
“For many of our residents, it’s a great inconvenience. As a low-income community, most of us don’t have cars,” Middleton said. “So you find some folks who have to walk, for example, behind the railroad tracks to the other side of Patapsco Avenue to get to M&T Bank. Or they have to walk across Ritchie Highway to get over to Brooklyn.”
A few years ago, Morgan State University commissioned a study on the historic community. Researchers said it was the first planned Black suburb in the U.S.
Middleton believes the bank’s mere presence here could send a signal that the community is worth the investment.
“…our historical African American community, which has been historically not served or underserved and disinvested. JPMorgan Chase brings with it opportunities for financial literacy for low-income communities, but also the resources it has already started to provide,” Middleton said.
JPMorgan Chase said they’ve invested $100,000 in South Baltimore Coalition. Middleton said the investment will help determine avenues for growth in the south Baltimore community.
JPMorgan Chase said it plans to open several other branches across the city and hire 200 people from the community.